Lusine Tamariani, 19, Batumi

“I was in the eighth grade at school when I accompanied my mother to Turkey to assist her in working on a plantation. We worked hard to make ends meet. When the time came for me to choose my profession, I decided to select the one that would be interesting for me and also increase my family’s income. The girls of my age usually go for traditionally ‘feminine’ occupations, but I decided to study seafaring. Sailors always have a very good salary and it is unfortunate that women are not represented in such a well-paid sector. Why shouldn’t we, women, work in male dominated industries? Besides, I love the sea, I know that I will travel a lot and have both an interesting life and a nice pay.

This year, I enrolled in the maritime navigation department of the Batumi Maritime Academy. I am the only girl among 170 boys, studying to become sailors. I am especially amused in the mornings when we stand in formation, with me being the only female in the line. I have been appointed the group leader and I am very proud of it. The teachers do not eye me suspiciously any longer, because one girl, Natia Labadze, has already graduated from the maritime navigation department and she is now sailing internationally. I’ve been told that they had never expected a girl to follow her dreams, they had expected her to get married and drop it, but she is now sailing on board a US vessel. So they believe in me too and it gives me more motivation. My uniform is different from the boys’ uniform – I am wearing a skirt instead of the trousers. I have asked the officers and they have agreed to allow me to wear trousers in winter at least. In warm weather, however, my skirt singles me out and I don’t find it inconvenient at all, on the contrary, I take pride in it.”